Thursday, February 10, 2011


My inspiration
Valentines Day is just this next week, and almost everyone is thinking about hearts and flowers. Well I, like a lot of other people, have become obsessed (in a healthy way, I hope) with all those wonderful photos and patterns for handmade Valentine crafts. Thus, the motivation for this project...

I've decided to make heart-shaped pillows as gifts for my two darling granddaughters. Of course, it's too late to make them for this coming Valentine's Day. On the other hand, hearts and flowers are always great themes for little girls - at least, all the little girls that I remember. (Older girls may be into other things besides flowery stuff.) But, I've been informed that, at least, my four-year old granddaughter loves pretty things. So, I think it's a safe bet that she'll be pleased with the heart-shaped bed pillow that I'm making. The other little girl is not yet two years old and, as far as I know, hasn't shown any decorating preferences.

Now, my first thought was to knit the whole project, and I found a number of patterns for knitted pillows on the Internet. But, then, again, knitting two entire pillows would be a major project, and I needed to finish the work in about eight weeks. That's because I plan to visit my son's family and other relatives at the end of April, and I want to carry the gifts with me. And, to make matters more complicated, I’m working (as usual) on two other needlework projects at the same time. So, I decided to look for a faster way to make pillows. And, I found a way.

The project
I came across a blog that showed how to make heart-shaped pillows out of thrift store-purchased sweaters. That seemed like a good start for this project. But I still wanted to knit something and to use embroidery to personalize the pillows. In another blog search, I found a picture of a quilt that had a patchwork heart in the middle. It looked nice. So, I decided to combine the ideas. My design would be a heart-shaped pillow made from sweater material with another heart sewn to the front made from knitted, patchwork pieces.

It's amazing how many personalized needlework projects that people have written about in blogs. I decided on two patterns - both to be embroidered with colored yarn on three knitted squares (as shown above). One embroidery would be the flower of the birth month and the other, the initials of each girl. The two initials for first and middle name would be embroidered on a square on one side of the flowered square, and the second set of two initials would be on a square on the other side. Now, that may sound a little strange, four initials. But in Spanish-speaking countries, most everyone has four names - two given names and two family (last) names, first the father's and then the mother's. My grandchildren were born and live in the U.S. but they are of Mexican American heritage and I, personally, want the girls to value their family background - thus, the reminder that they have four names (whether they'll ever use all four or not).

So, I went to the thrift store to look for two knitted sweaters - one to be pink and the other, wine-colored. Now, finding both sweaters didn’t seem to be a difficult thing to do. Even so, I wasn’t successful on the first try. The truth is I found only a pale pink one. But with that, I’ve started out my project for the two-year old. I’ll worry about finding a wine-colored sweater when I’ve finished the pink pillow.

So, here’s my own original design for the predominately pink pillow (as shown above). It's a heart inside a heart, about 10" by 14” overall. The bigger heart is cut out a the front and back of the sweater . Eight knitted squares and 4 triangles (half squares) make up a 9” by 13” inner heart. I’m working on the squares now. I’m using the same pattern that I used for the dishrags. (See my post that includes instructions for making simple dishrags.) The squares are small - about 3.5 inches on the side, and the yarn is a medium-weight synthetic. The needles are size 8. (See some additional notes below.)

The knitted pieces (squares and triangles) are in two colors, medium blue and white to be layed out in a diamond-shaped manner to form the inner heart shape. I’m going to crochet around the sewn-on knitted pieces, using a dark blue yarn to make a half-inch decorative border. This will help to cover up the slightly irregular heart shape formed by the knitted pieces. The initials, found as Clipart, will be embroidered with a dark blue thread. The flowers, also Clipart illustrations, will be embroidered with three or four different colors.

I haven’t decided which colors I’ll use to make the predominately wine-colored pillow for the older girl, but I’ll follow the same general design. That way I’ll have two similar gifts, and they’ll be personalized for each of my granddaughters. Now, my only problem is to keep busy with this work so I can finish the pillows on time.

You can cut out any size heart you like from the sweater. I've decided to wait to make the cut, so that it just fits the heart formed by the squares and triangles that I'm knitting. Well, you know, I've learned that first-time projects may turn out somewhat different than what was on the drawing board.

Also, considering the time limit I have on this project, I may have to purchase a little fabric flower at the craft store (they have a huge variety of these things) and applique it instead of trying to embroider it.  I'm really a slow at embroidery, and I've been known to take some shortcuts.

Related posts

1 comment:

Peggy~ said...

How ingenious of you, Susan, to combine those two ideas. I don't knit so this would be perfect for me. One could do this for any occasion, really. Hearts are good for little girls in any season, don't you think?